The day that my son started his seasonal job at a party store, I just wanted to tip my head back, spread my arms wide, turn around in circles and breathe. He was scheduled to work for six hours—the best six hours, ever!
And then, at the end of that first day of work, he said he was going to quit. His task for the day was standing on the corner, wearing a pirate costume, and waving a sign to attract people’s attention to the party store. For some reason, he did not think that was what he signed up for.
I don’t know what inspired him to go back the next day, but luckily he did and since it rained, he was able to work inside the store and didn’t say anything else about quitting for a few days.
He spent a lot of time out on that corner and hated every minute of it. One day, while he was working, I got a text from my friend that said, “We just passed a pirate standing on the corner. He looked like he wanted to shoot himself.”
I drove by many times, hoping to see him in the pirate costume, but I never did. I did see him looking like a very unhappy clown a couple of times and took his picture.
One day after work, he said, “I don’t think I will be hired on a permanent basis after Halloween.”
I asked why?
He replied, “Because I can’t tie balloons.”
I laughed out loud and then promised to buy him some balloons to practice on. He said he did not want me to do that. Why would he make the effort to practice something that might help him keep the position after Halloween was over?
About two weeks later, he was interviewed and then hired at a wholesale shipping warehouse. He worked there for two days and said it was very, very hard work.
On the third day, he called in sick. We could not believe he did that. We were sure that he had just lost this new job. Of course, he thought we had no idea what we were talking about and that he couldn’t be fired for being sick.
After that, every time he checked to see what his schedule was, he was told that they didn’t need him the next day.
He never worked there again.
He continued to work at the party store, but didn’t like it, threatened to quit all the time, and started to refuse to go if he had to walk or ride his bike. If I couldn’t take him, he would say that he was going to call in sick.
Apparently, he hadn’t learned anything from calling in sick at the warehouse.
HIS future was on the line, and he was behaving as if this job was my responsibility, not his.
It was so frustrating.
But as usual, I did everything that I could to help him because I always felt like I had no choice. He would threaten that if I didn’t drive him to work, he wouldn’t go. I knew that somehow, if he got fired, he would turn it all around and blame me for it. I just couldn’t handle that and did all that I could to help him keep this job for as long as they would schedule him to work.
At least when he went to court, he still had one job. I wondered if that would be enough to keep him out of detention.
He told the judge that he had a job at the party store (without mentioning that it was temporary) and had worked for two days so far at a wholesale shipping warehouse (neglecting to mention the text message that he had just gotten the day before that said, “We won’t be able to use you anymore.”)
The probation officer knew that the first job was temporary and that my son was likely not going to be working at the warehouse anymore, but didn’t make any effort to clarify those points with the judge. Neither one of them seemed to care that my son was not "fully employed" as had been mandated at the previous hearing.
I felt as if their goal that day was to close the case and wash their hands of my son. There was nothing I could do about it.
As we left the building that day, his probation officer said that he literally never wanted to see him again—meaning that he wanted him to stay out of trouble, but I was pretty sure that it also meant that he was ready to be rid of our family’s drama.
My new worry was that without the court's jurisdiction, my son would immediately feel that he was free to start smoking marijuana and doing whatever he wanted to do again. I hoped and prayed that he would stay sober, but, every single time he has been sober, I have always secretly wondered how long it would last.
He was not asked to stay on at the party store after Halloween. This was disappointing, but not unexpected.
As soon as he was not working anymore, he started spending a lot of time hanging out with his new friends from work. He always came back smelling like he had been sitting in a room full of smokers. He claimed that the mother at the house was a chain smoker and that he didn't like it at all. When I picked him up, I had to drive home with the windows rolled down (even though it was cold outside) because I couldn’t stand the smell and eventually stopped giving him rides and made him walk home. He swore that he wasn't smoking and that he didn't like the pervasive odor, either. I did not know whether I believed him or not.
I really wanted him to get a new job as soon as possible, so that he would have less time to hang out with these people.
But, he was having fun, doing nothing, and wasting time.
He was still demanding and mean. As he began to run out of money, the name calling and berating about my unwillingness to "treat him like other parents treat their kids" increased. I was supposed to give him everything that he wanted and rides everywhere he wanted to go.
He wasn’t in any hurry to get a new job, especially because that is what I wanted him to do.
He would rather do the exact opposite of anything that I expected.
He was really good at that.